Clippers opt for C.J. Wilcox with No. 28 pick

Clippers were more interested in a big man or a backup point guard, but C.J. Wilcox presented their best option with the No. 28 pick.

Clippers were more interested in a big man or a backup point guard, but C.J. Wilcox presented their best option with the No. 28 pick.

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- C.J. Wilcox's recent workout for the Clippers was something of a washout, but it didn't hurt his stock Thursday in the NBA draft.

The Clippers selected the 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Washington with their first-round pick, despite what Wilcox said was a bad first impression.

"That was one of my worst workouts that I had," Wilcox said in a conference call with reporters at the Clippers' training facility. "I walked out of there not too confident with how it went, but I talked to my agent after that and he said they had been watching me for a while and they still liked what I brought to the table, so not to give up on them.

"They ended up taking me, so it's funny how things work."

Funny because shooting guard wasn't high on their list of priorities. They were more interested in a big man or a backup point guard, but Wilcox presented their best option given the fact they were drafting 28th. They already have two capable shooting guards in J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford.

"We have Jamal and J.J., but he's the best player," coach Doc Rivers said. "You can always make it work when you can get the best player. I thought, as far as shooting in this league, you need it. You can never have enough of it. He may have been the best shooter in the draft. If not No. 1, then No. 2."

Wilcox, a fifth-year senior, was a career 43-percent shooter at Washington, set a school record for three-pointers (301) and averaged 18.3 points in his final season. He is one of three players in Pac-12 Conference history to total 1,800 points, 275 three-pointers and 400 rebounds.

But Rivers stressed the importance of defense in their post-draft phone conversation.

"Defense was the first thing he brought up, and it's definitely something I'm capable of doing," Wilcox said. "That comes first. But definitely, my ability to shoot the ball is going to help stretch the floor and help Chris Paul and some of the other guys get going."

Rivers said, "I don't know if any college player can play defense when they first walk into the NBA. I've seen that proven over time. But some can. He's long, he's athletic and it's rare when you get a shooter like that who wants to defend. That's a great combination."

Despite rumors the Clippers might look to trade away the pick (they had no second-rounder), Rivers said discussions fell through.

"We were close to doing a couple of things," he said. "Actually, a pick wasn't involved. We would have ended up with another pick if we had done one deal. As you know, most deals fall apart. We didn't have great confidence this morning when we woke up that the deal we thought we might get would happen, but we were out there pitching it."

More important than Thursday's draft is NBA free agency, which begins at 12:01 a.m. Monday. Point guard Darren Collison has indicated he will opt out of his player option and test the market, although he reportedly wants to return. But his salary of $1.95 million won't do it.

"You look at needs first," Rivers said, "unless there's somebody out there that's so talented they trump all your needs and you go for that. But most of the time that's too expensive, so you go for needs.

"You know, our first guy, I'll be honest, is one of our guys that opted out. He's a little guy. That's very important for us."

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